Improved communications within the American Forage & Grassland Council (AFGC) and its state affiliates, as well as with other forage-related organizations, will be a main goal of its new president, Ray Smith.

“I really look forward, over the next year, to finding out more about other forage-related organizations – finding out what people are doing and looking for ways to improve our interactions,” said Smith, University of Kentucky Extension forage specialist.

He spoke the last day of AFGC’s Jan. 12-14 conference in Memphis, TN, just after listening to a session on how AFGC, the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance and the National Hay Association can work together.

Smith would like to broaden that cooperative effort to include other groups, such as state and national livestock organizations.

“Maybe there are goals that we don’t have in common, but we need to look at what we do have in common and then focus on that together.”

A joint project he’d like to suggest: increasing the amount of funding available for forage research. Public funding has dropped significantly over the years, he says. But it’s definitely needed because “forages aren’t a high-margin-type crop, like corn,” and there aren’t the industry resources or checkoff funds for forages that there are for other commodity crops such as corn and soybeans.

The general public also needs to be educated on just what forage is, he said. “There’s a growing public awareness when you talk about grass-fed beef – that’s helped us.” Smith hopes for the day “when someone hears something about forage, (they) would have, immediately, a mental picture of what forage is and the benefits it brings.”

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